Katharine Hayhoe explains that climate change isn't just about polar bears.

Climate Change Evangelist

Katharine Hayhoe explains why Christians should care about climate change.

30 Second Science with Katharine Hayhoe

We give Katharine Hayhoe 30 seconds to describe her science and she gets it right… the second time.

10 Questions for Katharine Hayhoe

We ask Katharine Hayhoe 10 questions and she disses Al Gore.

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It's a twister!

Is there a connection between climate change and our recent spate of tornadoes? How about between climate change and the flooding Mississippi?

Who could possibly address these questions better than our own Climate Change Evangelist, Katharine Hayhoe?

Watch Katharine present the facts on PBS NewsHour. She comes in at about 2:48 in the segment.

Skyping with Katharine Hayhoe

By Ms. Parisi, Fourth and Fifth Grade Science, Long Island

While I watch the videos every two weeks, ideas start forming about what I can do in my classroom. And when I watched Katharine Hayhoe , it was no different. In addition to being an elementary teacher, I am the Global Awareness Club advisor. And I immediately thought of sharing her video with my club members. But then I thought about contacting Katharine herself and seeing if she could Skype in to my club. Not only did Katharine agree to Skype in, she willingly Skyped with two different groups. The fourth grade students Skyped with her to learn about how they can be empowered to help stop the climate changes caused by nonrenewable energies. And the fifth grade went more global, learning about how they can affect children around the world, for both good and bad. Katharine even went so far as to create two different presentations to change the focus for each group.

Katharine spoke to the children in simple-to-understand language, using graphs and pictures to explain how our climate is changing, heating up, and what that heating up is doing to various parts of the world. She answered questions about Long Island (where we live), about how they can change their energy use easily, about the recent tornados in the Midwest, and about her job as a climate scientist. She was gracious, energetic, and exciting to listen to. Katharine told the children about simple ways to save energy. “If each home in the United States changed one incandescent bulb for one fluorescent bulb, we would save the same energy as taking 1 million cars off the road!”

I'm melting! But what can I do?

During Katharine’s interview, what most caught my attention were her end-of-this-century scenarios. She said that under higher emissions, Chicago summers could feel like those on the Gulf Coast and Massachusetts ones like those in the Carolinas. As a Carolinian myself, that immediately resonated with me. I remember those summers tangibly, still – stepping outside, having just showered, yet feeling instantly as though I needed to again, so muggy was the heat. The searing temperatures penetrated your very core, causing claustrophobia even in large spaces. Summer soccer practices were dreadful – I remember getting cold I was so hot. I think they call that heat stroke. No offense to my roots, but I’d rather enjoy Northeast summers, at least until they disappear.

Relating climates to what we know, as Katharine does, helps us understand what could be. My Carolinian friends may be accustomed to sweltering southern heat now, but what will happen as temperatures rise? If the Northeast will feel like the South, what will the South feel like? I shudder to think. But what can we do? A lot, actually, without much extra effort.

Like most people, I recycle, use cloth bags for shopping (I like

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these !), and turn out lights. But a few years ago, after working on a documentary about low-impact living, I decided to make some bigger changes. Bigger doesn’t always necessarily mean harder, either. Here are a few easy steps you can take that won’t cramp your lifestyle:

—Use cloth napkins instead of paper towels/napkins. Yes, washing them creates waste, but how messy are we, really? It takes me a week to actually get one dirty.

—Don’t let the water run while brushing your teeth.
It’s getting hot in here….

—Migrate to safer, chemical-free cleaning agents.

—Avoid buying pre-packaged items. I realize it takes more time and thought to prepare fresh produce, but it’s the healthier option when possible. Along those lines, avoid buying anything individually packaged that is then packaged within a larger plastic bag or container.

—Stop using those little plastic bags in the grocery stores. Fruit may roll loose in your cart, but the plastic bags get pitched as soon as you get home, anyway.

—Reuse aluminum foil – it’s easy to wash.

When I started taking these greener steps, I’ll admit, I wondered if I was becoming my grandparents, who kept and reused everything to the point of madness. Of course, they grew up in the Depression, when re-usage was common because they couldn’t afford to do otherwise. While we didn’t have environmental standards for companies then as we do today, there was much less waste on an individual level because people were just thrifty. Now that industry has been regulated, it’s time to look to ourselves to make some changes. I don’t even notice the aforementioned tweaks to my lifestyle now, and if it helps Katharine’s climate predictions to fall apart, then it’s well worth it. If we don’t change our ways, I envision something akin to this scene down South.

The way I think of it

You know the routine. Split screen. Two so-called experts from opposing sides of an issue wildly screaming to be heard over each other. Neither one listening at all. Finally, the host comes in and wraps it up nice and clean and tidy. And cut to a commercial. Buy a car…a six-pack…or a Bump-It.

One of the things we love about Katharine Hayhoe is that she embodies both sides of one of those split-screen scenarios—she is a climate scientist encouraging folks to take better care of the Earth (that is, if we want it to remain inhabitable)… and she’s a devout evangelical Christian.

Now based on what I usually see on the teevee machine, Katharine should clearly be at war with herself.

But she isn’t, not even a little bit. She explains:

“As far back as I can remember, my father was teaching me about the world around us—whether it was memorizing all of the birds that we would see in our backyard, or keeping an eye out for all of the rare wild flowers that there are in Ontario, or the giant telescope that we dragged with us on most of our family vacations. But at the same time, from the very beginning, as he taught me about the world, he also taught me that it was the result of a God who created it. And the more I study the world, the more it seems to me that that is the case.

“I love figuring out how things work. It just gives me enormous satisfaction to figure out what makes something happen in a certain way, or what different pieces go into making something happen…. And so that is what I love about science, putting those pieces together and really figuring out—at least, the way I think of it—what God was thinking when he put all those pieces together for the first time.”

As a scientist who has spent long hours learning how those pieces fit together, Katharine wants you to understand these facts about climate change—it’s happening, we’re responsible for a substantial amount of it, and we’d better change our ways NOW. Her religious beliefs obviously help fuel Katharine’s scientific inquiry and her work as a “climate change evangelist.” You may or may not share those beliefs, but Katharine isn’t asking you to share them anyway. What she is asking is that you share her compassion, for the current and future residents of the planet we call home.

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